Apifera Farm - where art, story, animals & woman merge. Home to artist Katherine Dunn

Apifera Farm is a registered 501 [c][3]. All images are ©Katherine Dunn.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

What becomes of the loved face?

I have not painted in earnest since my mother died a year ago this coming week. While I've been creating images for the book, I have not worked on a body of canvases since my last show, which I was painting for when my mother suddenly died. I didn't consciously stop, I just couldn't bring myself to sit in the same spot of a year ago and look at the paints and other views that I remember while I tried to absorb the shock of that moment. I'm the boss of me, as Neil Young once said, and I didn't care if I wasn't painting. Everyday is a painting here, but sometimes my medium is the land, or animals, or sewing, baking, writing or thinking. I quit worrying about 'shoulds' from others a long time ago.

It was Boone's birthday. I told you then how it seemed unfair that she died on his birthday, but I quickly saw it as a little note from her and others, reminding me that life is for the living. After all, I had waited so long to get my horse, there was no need to wallow in the past or death. I had to get in the saddle. So on April 4th, I'll be with Boone.

But I can now say with all honesty I've had depression. Internally. I'll mention it to Martyn when I feel it, then I move on. We have such a good life together with so much laughter, nature, good meals and wine, and our garden and farm, that I can't wallow in any kind of sadness. But it is still there, the quiet little sack of sadness. But then every day I'm happy too. But then I'm depressed...while being happy. I think it is important to remember this about loss–it does not go away. the loss is always a loss and it manifests itself forever, in different ways. Others who have had loss, on any given day, might be struggling even if they appear happy. There is also this pressure online-for me anyway- to not dwell on the negative, to share the positive, the upbeat. I'm not looking for advice from anyone I just think it is helpful that others see that even someone like me, surrounded by donkeys and sweet pigs, and one grumpy one, folds her wings in and takes a sit down.

The mounting pressure of the arrival of April 4th really started around Martyn's birthday. Then mine came and went. All the 'firsts' of the first year after her death-first holiday season, first birthday, first spring, etc- are now almost past. There is something freeing about it being a year. But I still can go into shock, briefly, when I remember she is dead, or remember that day. I have been pondering why it is hitting me hardest right about now and I think it is because spring itself is so raw in so many ways-our senses are ready and open for the aromas of spring flowers and fruit blossoms, the seeds are percolating beneath us-we are vibrating in a spring. Our hearts are eager and open to new life. It's a visceral time.

I have a voice message saved from my mother and in the days after she died, I played it all the time. Now I play it every few weeks or less. But I still talk to that recording. "Hope everything is okay, talk to you later," she ends her message. "Talk to you later," I say out loud.

I was thinking that if one is lucky enough to grow old, there perhaps comes a day when a thought enters your head, "I sure do miss a lot of friends and family, maybe eternal rest isn't so bad after all." I don't know, but that must be what letting go is all about in the end-the end to suffering, whatever your personal suffering is.

After a year of not seeing her, I think the other reality is still-okay, it's been a year, now there are 40 to go.

So today I started some warm ups to paint again. I'm taking back the studio, taking back the paint. I painted a face trying to remember my mother's hair and features in the end and all I could see was her face is lit up like stars. I didn't make much of anything but I started again. The other two faces only remote resemble her. Perhaps I'm not ready to see her from my soul yet.


Jess said...

A wonderful post. Most of us will, or already have lost our mums. Thankyou for sharing, you touched my heart. xx

Tracie Lyn Huskamp said...

Katherine...thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing your journey so honestly! Every word rings true. I have followed in many of the same steps. Now that the year has passed for mom, I am also now trying to take back the paint!!! I also have a voicemail that I saved from my mom calling on my birthday. I plan to play the message on my special day just to hear her voice. I know we will endure! I know we will thrive!!! Love You!

Anonymous said...

I lost my Mom over 30 years ago now and I still have moments where the full sadness of that loss overwhelm. I love your paintings and am glad to see that your are moving back into them if only slowly. xox

Julie Whitmore Pottery said...

Amen, sister.xx

Anonymous said...

Dear Katherine...I read your blog on and off and just recently found your threads on grief. I want you to know that long after you post, your words
have a significant value to those of us who need them. Thank you so much for putting yourself
out there for us to gain strength from during our own hard times. You have great value to many not just a few.....your mother must have been proud.
......from a follower in San Jose CA

Katherine Dunn/Apifera Farm said...

That is so good to hear, ANonymous. I mean I write and share for my own well being, but when it is a circle and helps or percolates ideas and help for others, it is truly a life I aspire to continue-sharing the jewell. Corrine...I know. 30 years.xo Julie- Amen, donkey style to you!

Anonymous said...

While you will never get over the loss of your mother you will get through it. The pain is gradually replaced with just the happy memories and the appreciation for having had the opportunity to have had her at all. Your images of your mom are wonderful, very sweet and touching....

Katherine Dunn/Apifera Farm said...

This is true, Anon. I know I say that to many who have lost moms-we are the lucky ones to have had such good moms, for so long. My own mom lost hers when my mom was only 8.

Cyrene said...

"....I just think it is helpful that others see that even someone like me, surrounded by donkeys and sweet pigs, and one grumpy one, folds her wings in and takes a sit down."
This is so beautiful, it made me tear up. Thank you so much for sharing this with us. Bless you and your loved ones.

Katherine Dunn/Apifera Farm said...

Thank you , Cyrene- so kind of you to comment liek that.

Terra said...

I like your paintings of the woman, perhaps your mom, and I like how you talk to the answering machine message she left, and you say "talk to you later." I believe I will talk to my mom again one day, that is a beautiful hope.

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Thank you for reading! The farm and my art/writing keep me hopping, so might not respond immediately. Thank you for understanding. ~Katherine & Apifera ~